Monday, October 20, 2008

Cuban Mujeres Who Lunch

For the most part I prefer to have a big lunch rather than a big dinner. Since I usually always eat too much (and then wonder why I feel ill and like my stomach will explode) I prefer to have a larger meal in the middle of the day rather than stuff myself at night. I usually just end up eating a big dinner anyway but more often than not, lunch is the big meal of the day. My family in Argentina usually has a feast for lunch, mate and crackers in the afternoon and then a big dinner at around 9. So, it's not just a Cuban thing but a Latina thing, in general.

My grandmother lives across the street from our office in Queens. So, when I actually come to my office (usually three days a week, lately less) I run across the street for some home-cooked goodness on an otherwise uneventful afternoon. I make requests and she is more than happy to fulfill them. Sometimes she makes dinner and I take it home for D and me (sometimes I forget to take it from the fridge at our office and end up having it for lunch during the week). "AC" - how my sister and I lovingly call her - it stands for Abuela Chula (translated as "Hot Grandmother" - I kid you not - this is what we've always called her) - is the best cook. One of my cousin's (there are nine of us first cousins and I'm the oldest) wrote an essay about her when he was little and she has it laminated on her fridge - it's one of those "I love my Grandma because" things - and one of the items on his kindergarten project list is: "because she is a great cooker". She really is.

On a particularly grumpy day (for me, not for her) last week, I was starving and in a bad mood - bad combination if you are someone like me. The only thing that could take my cares away was a Cuban steak with fried onions, white rice and a big salad with the oil and vinegar that only she can mix to perfection. I swear I don't know where the food goes. Thank God for my discipline on that torture machine, the elliptical, at the gym. Without fail, her lunch fills me up and makes me whole again. I come back to my office and my hair stinks of "fritanga" and all my clothes have to be sent to the cleaners but the feeling I get in my belly and in my heart is worth it.

ps--she wouldn't let me take her picture because she thought she looked "fea" - she's so cute. She can never be "fea". She just chopped and fried some onions and look at her fierce red nails.

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